Jelly Bags, also called, jelly strainer bags are fine mesh bags that strain liquid mixtures helping you purify them for consumption or further processing.
What are Jelly Bags Used For?
Jelly Bags are used to turn cloudy liquids to clear liquids to be used in the making of jellies, straining of soup stocks, purifying homemade vinegar or beer ,or the purpose of being drunk as juice drinks.
When straining fruits, you will be filtering out the skin, pulp, and seeds. If you are going to be straining herbs, you will be filtering out the stems and leaves.
Jelly bags have many uses, we have only touched on a few examples to give you an idea on what you can use them for! As previously said, Jelly Bags are effective for straining anything homemade, making them more purified, like vinegar and beer, soup stocks, nut milk and can also be used as a vital filtering instrument for cheese making.
Do I need a Jelly Bag?
You can strain liquids fine without a jelly bag, but whatever recipe, drink, or food you are preparing would be less purified than if you just used a Jelly Bag!
Jelly Bags are very effective in getting suspended particles out of liquids to produce a very clear juice and stock. You just add pectin or thickener to give your strained juices more body before serving. But perfectionists, especially the health buffs just drink or use whatever comes out of the Jelly Bag, sans thickeners or additives.
Jelly Bags can also be used if you are forced to eat liquid foods due to health conditions. They will ensure no large clumps of food get into your food causing you to choke.
Jelly bags may be made of cotton or nylon. A standard jelly bag used in the USA or Canada can hold 4 pounds or 2 kg of crushed fruit. People admit that this is not enough for their juicing or soup stock needs. So, what they do is they use another jelly bag or more until they fulfill their requirements.
Some jelly bag designs have rounded tips and some have pointed tips.
How to take care of Jelly Bags?
Jelly bags are meant to be used repeatedly. On its first use, it is recommended that the new jelly bags be boiled to get the lint out and relax the fibers of the bags.
After every use thereafter, when done with a filtering session, dispose of the contents properly into the recyclable garbage section. Then rinse the bags in cold water. Then wash them well.
When new, Jelly Bags will be a white color. Over time, however, they will stain, bit by bit after each use. Some people who care about the color of their jelly bags bleach them so they go back to their original white color after a few uses.
How to use Jelly Bags?
It is recommended to wet the jelly bag first so that your juice will not get clogged up by the cloth. Then, let the jelly bag drip for a minimum of two hours to overnight. Let the jelly bag be undisturbed while it does the dripping process.
The jelly bag should be suspended over a catching vessel which captures the juice which drops out of the bottom of the jelly bag. It can be suspended through 2 ways – tying it in the air or stretching it over a stand which makes it stand upright. The jelly bag has straps for this purpose.
Never press prematurely the jelly bag or you will press some of the impurities into the juice. This defeats the purpose of the jelly bag which is to filter the juice.
If you are not content with the first straining process, reheat the juice and wash the jelly bag before putting in the contents again.
If you do not have enough time to do the jelly from the juice right after, you could always freeze the juice for later.
Always make sure that, whatever style you will suspend the jelly bag, make sure it is tied securely and tightly because when you leave it on its own to drip overnight, and it falls, it would be a disaster and you will wake up instead to a terrible messy kitchen in the morning.
One somewhat stable jelly bag is one that has stitched rims at the top. This is designed to be stretched around a stand, so it has many connecting points to the stand which makes it less prone to fall.
If the stand and the jelly bag could fit in your fridge let the dripping happen inside the fridge, so as to avoid the issue of fruit flies and other pests getting to the juice while dripping.
Jelly Bag Alternatives
Cheesecloth: If you only have this for filtering, you need 4 layers of closely woven cheesecloth to be able to strain the juice well.
Food mill or strainer: It will strain the seeds and the skin, but it cannot strain the fine particles of pulp from the liquid.
Steam juicer: It can produce juice, but it is not filtered.
Coffee filters: They do the job, for a while, until they clog up, and the straining stops.
Clean pillowcase: Because they are large, they could filter big quantities of juice. Just like the jelly bag, wet the pillowcase first with water before filtering so that majority of the juice will not get stuck in the fibers of its cloth.